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Vicar cleared of raping schoolgirl

A jury took just an hour to clear a vicar yesterday of raping and abusing a schoolgirl.

The Rev Malcolm Jackson (52), vicar of Kirkleatham, Teesside, smiled and looked up as the foreman gave “not guilty” verdicts on the four serious charges he faced.

The married father-of-four was cleared of rape, attempted rape, sexual activity with a child and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity following a week-long trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Mr Jackson looked close to tears as he left the dock before hugging a female well-wisher in the public gallery.

He declined to comment about the ordeal, which saw him suspended from his role as vicar.

That suspension has now been lifted, though the Archbishop of York has recommended he take time off to recover.

His accuser, who cannot be identified, told the court the vicar tried to rape her in the church hall office, but that she struggled and fought him off.

The jury heard personal testimonials from members of the clergy and youth leaders who described him as “an inspiration to young people” and a “well-liked and respected professional”.

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